American Legion, SMYTH COUNTY POST NO. 18 — 1924
American Legion -1924
Smyth County Post No.18, American Legion, was organized in the fall of 1919 at Marion, Va. Officers as follows were elected Post commander, Haynes L. Morgan; vice-commanders, R. B. McCready, J. F. Keesling, T. B. Burgess; Post adjutant, W. H. Currin. The records show a membership of 139 for that year. The new organization started out enthusiastically, but did not seem to accomplish much owing to a number of reasons. There was probably a misunderstanding of Legion objectives during this period of readjustment of men recently returned from various fields of service. The need of some means of getting the members together and keeping their interest in meetings and activities at highest point was soon felt in the attendance at get-togethers. The business meetings became a parley, conducted by those who lived close to headquarters, and who probably realized that, though a mere infant, the American Legion was to grow in a few years to be the largest organization of ex-service men for its age in any country and at any period of history. Thus we pass into another year.
The records of 1920 show a much smaller membership than at the start, with no change of officers. What had become of the enthusiasm of a few months past? No regular place to meet; no permanent headquarters or dug-out; no form of entertainment, a feature to which we had become well accustomed while in service; no definite objectives to keep the fellows on the job. These, with other causes, made the year somewhat of a drag throughout. It is true that all did not lose that spirit of work and service so much needed; for the officers of that year are to be commended for their efforts to secure the co-operation of the veteran and the public for the cause of the Legion.
There was a general slump of interest on the part of all men who had once been members of the Post. True, there were new men in the role of officers, but the membership was more than one hundred less than the first year; 1921 and 1922 passed and still no permanent headquarters. Meetings were held in the place available at the time of meeting and by no means in one and – the same place. The public at large seemed to regard the Legion as a mere trifle and not worth the small bit of interest and encouragement necessary to the growth and development of any society, however small. Things were looking gloomy indeed for the good old A. L. with the shadow of complete dissolution almost over the Post.
Another year was ushered in with apparently the same outlook as the two preceding, when clear and true came the last appeal of the Department Adjutant, waking that dormant pride in those who had once been Legionaires. “Get up and fall in line or lose your charter,” met a come-back large enough to put the membership above the zero limit and thus keep the charter on record.
The reorganization of Smyth County Post No.18 took place in July, 1923, with the election of officers for the remaining part of the year. They were: Post commander, L. Preston Collins; vice-commander, Frank Copenhaver; adjutant, Beattie Gwyn; service officer, Byron Anderson. The first thing the Post did was to secure permanent headquarters. This was done by securing the hall and rooms formerly used by a fraternal organization. Now that the Post had taken a new start it was necessary to strengthen it by securing as many new members as possible. The first feature to stimulate interest in the Legion was a feed in the form of an oyster supper at Greer’s. The Post had the honor of being the first to give a feed in the new restaurant. The membership before the election of officers in November was thirty-nine.
With Post connnander, J. F. Ward; vice-commander, Frank Lemon; adjutant, E. H. Phillippe, Jr.; service officer, Dr. Ross Dodson; sergeant-at-arms, Q. A. Calhoun; publicity agent, L. Preston Collins; executive committee: Lewis M. Latane, C. W. Scott, Jr., W. H. Currin; as officers for 1924 the Legion began the new year with a number of objectives backed by the determination to make good. The boys needed some form of entertainment at the Post rooms and the most logical thing seemed to be a first-class radio receiver. This was installed and proved to be a very great help to the Post.
The membership drive brought many new men as well as former members to our ranks. In a short time the roll of the Post grew to almost double to what it had been in 1923. They are still coming in at most every meeting. The part taken by the Post in assisting the ex-service man or his dependents in filling out the Adjusted Compensation Claims has brought new men to our ranks and made inmy friends for the Legion.
In order that the Legionaires might have some distinctive feature for formal occasions and Post turn-outs, official Legion Post caps were provided for the members of the Post. This feature gained several new men as well as the publicity acquired by wearing the caps.
The most noteworthy features of the Post so far this year are two shows and a picnic. The first show was an amateur theatrical produced by the Post and proved to be a success. The showing of Powder River under the auspices of Smyth County Post No.18 on June 26th was a record in that the theater was packed to capacity and overflowing at the last showing of the film. The Fourth of July picnic, given the boys of Davis Clinic, did more good for the local Post than anything we have accomplished so far. The Post found that the trip, for the pleasure and happiness it afforded our comrades, was niore than worth the cost. The people of the town now realize that it is the Legion that can and will do things that need to be done. The Post as yet has no auxiliary. It is a fact realized by every Legionaire that we need this one most necessary aid to our Post and efforts have been made to that end, but so far we have been unable to do so. Several eligibles have been approached on the subject, but they seem to have too much to do or else are not sufficiently interested in the good they might accomplish in cooperation with the local Post.
Smyth County Post No.18 is not the only organization of its kind in Smyth County. It has a rival in the Gilbert-Catron Post No.5, located at Saltville, Va. Consequently we have less possible members than when the entire county was our territory. One reason for this Post is that a large portion of the men in service were in that vicinity.
The accomplishments of the Post have not been up to our expectations because of lack of finances. This difficulty is in a way growing less as more workers join the ranks and the various means of providing necessary funds are energetically used. There’s work to do and we are out to do it Legion style. Plans to take a part in the Smyth County Fair are being gone over and indications are that the undertaking will be a success. We hope to have a delegation at the State Convention this year as we have not been able to attend conventions regularly.
Much of our success this year has been due to the interest and encouragement of our State Department officers who have not given us a chance to lag, should we have so desired. We are not working for the good of our Post alone, but for that grand old brotherhood, the American Legion, which we trust will some day be the greatest organization under the Stars and Stripes.